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On the Cover: One People Unite

As an inexpensive and quickly produced medium, screenprints hold a long history of amplifying social critique. The artist collective AfriCOBRA (African Commune of Bad Relevant Artists) prioritized screenprinting to spread their message of "attitudes, and sensibilities of African Americans independent of the technical and aesthetic strictures of Euro-centric modalities."

The cover of our Fall/Winter 2023 issue of Studio magazine features Barbara Jones-Hogu's One People Unite (1969).

As an inexpensive and quickly produced medium, screenprints hold a long history of amplifying social critique. The artist collective AfriCOBRA (African Commune of Bad Relevant Artists) prioritized screenprinting to spread their message of "attitudes, and sensibilities of African Americans independent of the technical and aesthetic strictures of Euro-centric modalities."[1] They were Black artists making art for and of Black communities, and the prints were affordably priced and stocked in Black-owned businesses. Established during the burgeoning Black Power movement of the 1960s and '70s, prints from this collective often combined bold text and colors to declare their commitment to Black liberation.


Thirty years old and still enrolled in her master's program, Barbara Jones-Hogu was the only trained printmaker of the group, and the artist behind the screenprint One People Unite—though in typical AfriCOBRA fashion, no signature is included, emphasizing the collective over the individual. The title is perhaps a play on Marx and Engels's Communist Manifesto worker rallying cry—workers of the world unite!—as well as a universal reminder of the power of unifying in voice and vision for revolution.

Barbara Jones-Hogu, One People Unite, 1969. Screenprint on gold paperboard, 22 1/2 in. (57.2 x 71.1 cm). Studio Museum in Harlem; Museum purchase with funds provided by the Acquisition Committee 2018.17

As a screenprint, Jones-Hogu produced several iterations of One People Unite. In this work, we see a left, front, and right profile of a Black figure flanked by mirrored red, green, and purple rainbows. If the print were folded in half the arcs would band together into an unbroken circle. The figure possesses the all-seeing, or providential, eye at the center of its forehead. Thus the work pledges the miraculous if allyship is achieved.


Jones-Hogu was also a member of the Organization of Black American Culture (OBAC), known for its landmark Wall of Respect depicting fifty historical Black figures on a building in the Bronzeville neighborhood of Chicago. Completed in 1967, many scholars consider this the first collectively made street mural, which the artist herself described as a "revolutionary act of art and politics."[2]

As a slogan used to fight for and achieve demands for rights, though not included, one can easily imagine the declarative, vocal power of an exclamation point at the end of the title. One people unite!

[1] AfriCOBRA: Philosophy, Logan Center Exhibitions, University of Chicago, June 28–August 11, 2013

[2] Victoria L. Valentine, ”Chicago Artist Barbara Jones-Hogu, Founding Member of AfriCOBRA, Has Died,“ Culture Type, November 21, 2017

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